Tyrese Haliburton has to be better for the Pacers to win

Tyrese Haliburton has to pick up his play for the Pacers to have a chance against the Knicks.
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game One
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game One / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

After the Indiana Pacers' Game 1 loss to the New York Knicks, the main focus was on the awful officiating near the end of the game. In a span of just under three minutes, multiple lopsided calls took the game out of Indiana's hands and placed it right into New York's hands. However, these calls should not distract fans from the bigger issue, which was Tyrese Haliburton's awful play in Game 1.

In almost a 1 to 1 recreation of his Game 1 against Milwaukee, Haliburton once again took as few shots as possible, only taking six this time. Usually the player with the most or second-most shot attempts on the team, Haliburton's six shot attempts instead ranked tied for second-least, only ahead of Ben Sheppard and tied with Aaron Nesmith and Isaiah Jackson, the latter of whom only played 13 minutes compared to Haliburton's 36.

Additionally, in the fourth quarter, Haliburton was basically nonexistent. While Jalen Brunson put the Knicks on his back in the fourth quarter with 21 points in 10 minutes, Haliburton did not put a single shot up in his final nine minutes of action and didn't record a single assist while having three turnovers to boot.

Of course, some of this can be chalked up to his back issues as well as the lingering hamstring, but he still has to be more aggressive, as the Knicks were taking every chance possible to doubl- team and trap him and he played right into their plan, taking absolutely nothing the defense gave him and throwing pass after pass even when he had a good shot opportunity.

Going into Game 2, Haliburton needs to remember exactly who he is and how much the team needs him. Despite his awful play and the referee bias at the end, Indiana almost won the game, only losing in the final minute or so due to the awful kickball violation on Aaron Nesmith completely shifting momentum for good.

Despite Haliburton's off night, players like Myles Turner, Pascal Siakam, and TJ McConnell almost led Indiana to a Game 1 victory on the road. In order to get back at New York and steal one in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Haliburton has to be better, and it starts with his aggressiveness.

The New York Knicks defense was mainly focused on Haliburton in Game 1 and he fell right into their trap, not shooting when he was open and being far too pass-happy, especially in late-game situations where Jalen Brunson was on the other end taking over the game for New York.

Despite the injuries still nagging him, Haliburton needs to keep shooting, as he is still a star and has shown as much in these playoffs, such as his performance in Game 3 against Milwaukee where he shot terribly from the field on 18 shots but hit the game-winner and finished with a triple-double.

The difference between an aggressive Tyrese Haliburton and a passive Tyrese Haliburton is major, regardless of if his shots are falling or not. When Haliburton shoots more, defenses will be inclined to put a hand up on him, which will eventually open up opportunities for his teammates to get easy looks from inside and outside.

Haliburton should aim for at least 15 shots on Wednesday if he wants his team to win. Even if most of them do not go in, it is still beneficial to his team that he keeps shooting and makes sure the defense does not forget about him.


Indiana should not feel discouraged after a close Game 1 loss on the road, if Tyrese Haliburton wakes up for the rest of the series, they certainly stand a chance against this Knicks team. However, if Haliburton continues being his current passive self, the Pacers will not make it far and their season may very well be over.